Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III will not play in Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, but he will still play a role in raising awareness of leukemia through the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats initiative.
The former Alabama standout is unable to play because he is off the active squad and in the reserve/non-football after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia in July.
But the Houston wide receivers who will be on the field will wear cleats designed to honor Machie and draw attention to the illness that sidelined him in his first season in the NFL.
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Texans’ pass catchers will wear orange cleats, the color designated for leukemia awareness. The shoes feature the words “Metchie Strong” and “Believe” with an orange band representing the letter “l”.
“However we can have this fight with you, we just want to draw attention and say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of our hearts,” Houston wide receiver Brandin Cooks told Metchie when the wide receivers showed him the cleats at NRG Stadium this week . “We don’t say that lightly. We love you and continue to inspire each other in everything you do. You know we’ve got your back every step of the way.”
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, acute promyelocytic leukemia occurs when “there are too many immature blood-forming cells (promyelocytes) in the blood and bone marrow. This accumulation of promyelocytes leads to a shortage of normal white and red blood cells and platelets in the body. Signs and symptoms of APL include an increased risk of bleeding and the formation of blood clots. Individuals may also experience excessive fatigue, pain in affected areas, loss of appetite, and weight loss.”
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society calls APL “the most curable form of adult leukemia,” with cure rates of 90 percent at centers specializing in treating the disease.
Houston traded the 68th, 108th, and 124th picks in this year’s NFL Draft to jump 24 spots to pick Metchie on April 29 with the 44th pick, though the Texans thought it likely he was due a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in Alabama’s 41-24 win over Georgia in the SEC championship game on December 4.
Metchie had 96 receptions for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior season with the Crimson Tide.
Across the NFL, players and coaches wear cleats that highlight nonprofit organizations and charities during Week 13 games. After the games, the shoes will be auctioned off at the NFL auction. Proceeds from sales are donated to the charities supported by the cleats.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.